Thoughts on Northern Vietnam

It was a fantastic ten days in Vietnam; I should be more precise North Vietnam. From what I’ve heard, the South is different. The northern part has different landscapes such as mountain and rice fields in Mai Chau, plateau and river in Ninh Binh, or limestone karts in Halong Bay. Visiting Northern Vietnam will satisfy all tourists – from the adventurous to the organizer travelling travel agencies.

The people are very relax and calm. As a solo traveller, people were very friendly and always happy to help me; several times I was just sitting on the Hoan Kiem Lake quay, and will randomly have small chats with locals. I also find them very stylish, for example, because of pollution they often wear a mask when on motorbikes. Outside of Hanoi, people use the ugly green medical-like mask, in Hanoi folks design their pollution mask matching it with the jacket they are wearing.

Food is fantastic, although I have been disappointed by the Pho. By disappointed I mean, I though they would all be fine, but some were below ok. Regardless, I had several dishes, springs rolls, egg rolls, salty peanuts, some veggies dish as well, and of course RICE! You’ll have plenty of it!!

My few cents on tourism, It is well developed in Vietnam, not as much as Thailand though. But I strongly recommend, especially when traveling solo or within a group of adults to do all your trips/activities by your own. Try as less as possible to book with travel agencies, they often impose they schedule, and you may feel like you’re not really on vacations. I remember meeting a group of tourist mentioning they went to Halong Bay with a travel agency, and the agency only let them swim for twenty min, by the way, they were coming from Denmark.

In any case, Vietnam should be in your list of countries to visit; you won’t be disappointed. The country has it all to make your stay memorable.

Bon Voyage!

Destination Vietnam | Hanoi Day 2

After a mere breakfast at the hotel, I took the camera, GoPro, iPhone and went for a walk in the city focusing primarily on the Old Quarter and the French quarter.

The Old quarter is a touristic area and as such has a backpack street Ngo Huyen Street located near the St Joseph’s Cathedral. In this part of the city, you will find a bit of everything and nothing, from very useful to very useless. You can buy handmade crafts, paintings, cards – you can have street food, fresh juice, or go to the barbershop for a quick fix. was walking toward the Hoan Kiem Lake, a landmark in Hanoi. This is where they showcased the fireworks the night before celebrating the 60th anniversary of Hanoi independence from the French. While walking on the west bank of the Lake towards the French quarter, I was suddenly hungry and craved for Pho Bo, my first one in the country well-known for this dish.

Somehow, right next to me there was a Pho Bo shop that appears to only attract Tourists. I went in — the food was OK, but I don’t recommend it. I hope to have better Pho Bo during my visit in Vietnam.

Pass the lake on the Southeast; you walk into the French Quarter. The area is quite distinctive from the Old Quarter. Back then, the French Continue reading

Destination Vietnam | Hanoi Day 1

I landed at Hanoi Noi Bai International airport on a Friday around noon. I took a cab to the city for 350k VND (a bit of negotiating, don’t go above 400k VND). I told the taxi driver that I didn’t have any hotel and asked him to drop me somewhere in the Old Quarter. Of course, they all are connected; the driver dropped me at a hotel with the price range between 10 to 15 USD. The room was ok, so I decided to stay there.

After resting a bit and talking to the hotel manager already trying to sell me tourist packages, I decided to walk around the neighborhood to get my first impression of the city.

As anyone expect, it is a fantastic first impression. Hanoi is an animated city (at least on the weekends). There are people everywhere on

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Travel Tip | Transport from/to Hanoi Airport by bus

Those of you who will land in Hanoi, below is my few cents on the trip from the Airport to the city and vice-versa. 

Hanoi Nai Bai Airport to the Old quarter:

When you exit the international arrival gate, there are several taxis. Although all of them have a meter, they might still ask you up to 650k VND for a ride to the city. Keep in mind you can still negotiate, I negotiate a drive to the Old Quarter for 350k VND.

Another alternative and considerably cheaper is to take the local bus. At the international arrival gate, once you exit the airport, you will see taxis companies in front of you. Ignore them and take a right, and walk for maybe 150-200 meters until you find on your left-hand side the bus station. There are twos buses 7 and 17. Although both bring you in the city my preference goes to the 17 as it drops you at Long Bien bus station in the Old quarter or near enough for a short walk or drive by taxi.

For your reference, the local buses are in front of the Domestic arrival exit gate. You can’t miss it.

Old Quarter to Hanoi Nai Bai Airport:

Similarly, to get to the airport there are many taxi companies; the price can go as low as 250k VND. If flying very early some taxi offers pre-booking services.

Looking for a cheaper alternative, one where you can see a bit of Vietnamese life, go for the local bus. If you are staying nearby the Old quarter, walk or take a taxi to the Long Bien bus interchange (the ride should not cost more than 30k from the Old Quarter).

There wait for the bus 17, get on, and you are pretty much all set.

The Airport station is the terminus so you can just chill and enjoy the scenery.

The bus will drop you near the domestic arrival. While facing the airport take a right to get to the international arrival, from there take the stairs up to get to the departures zone. The ride last about an hour and 15 min — the ticket cost 9k VND (October ’14).